Black Panther Claws Up


by Camille Gaston

Verve Art

     Much like the Vibranium that was hurled from space by a meteorite and deposited on Wakanda, making it the most technologically advanced nation in the Marvel Universe, the Black Panther movie hits the Hollywood landscape exactly the same way.

       It’s a definite smash, and the film’s gift to Hollywood is that it stands as a new standard of black on-screen representation. 

       Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who after the death of his father, returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. As the new king and Black Panther, he is met with conflict by opposing forces that put Wakanda and the whole world at risk. 

      He teams up with his former girlfriend, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), his little sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), the Wakandan special forces, and a CIA agent to defeat the enemies and protect the people.
In this production, Ryan presents us with fresh looks at strong black female characters such as Shuri, whose power is being the smartest person in the world, in front of the camera, and a woman cinematographer behind the lens, Rachel Morrison, who also worked with Coogler on Fruitvale Station.

      Black Panther is an action adventure that takes you on a journey where you explore many themes like family, love, ancestry, honor, loyalty, tragedy…you can go on and on. But it seems to touch on these elements flawlessly- elements when perfectly combined, create the magic moviegoers naturally want to experience. On the talk show The View , Boseman expressed that “it works to have a black cast, it works that our stories can resonate… ”
Among themes I mentioned, the prevailing message in Black Panther seems to be this question: How can Wakanda be so rich in resources but it allows other black people, in the world outside of Wakanda, suffer? This is Erik Killamonger’s (Michael B. Jordan) thought. Throughout the film, other characters also voice political viewpoints, which sharply reflects the current social climate in America today.

     This film will make some wonder where Africa or other continents with rich natural resources would have been today had they not been colonized.   It’s a blatant defiance to the Hollywood norm, but Ryan Coogler brilliantly finds a way to tell a superhero story while making some strong statements.

      The film ultimately comes across as palpable for everyone, regardless of the race of the person watching the film. After walking out of the theater, you can’t help but feel like history is actually being made in Hollywood.

      Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in July 1966, Black Panther was the first black superhero published by a major comics publisher. Kudos to Marvel.   In the following articles I will be discussing the film’s elements in a more in-depth look. Stay tuned!